June 4, 2008
A telling example of a victim prompting a lighter sentence
I have often asserted that allowing victims to have a say at sentencing might sometimes prompt a more away from harsh imprisonment terms. And this story from Tennessee showcases this reality:
A man guilty of vehicular homicide will not spend any time in prison following an unusual act of forgiveness in open court. “I do forgive you,” Jana Bice tearfully told Jeremiah Mann, the person who killed her father when his SUV struck Dwight Brooks’ car in March 2004 in Chattanooga. “My father was a wonderful man,” Ms. Bice continued during Mr. Mann’s sentencing hearing Monday. “But I think (Mr. Mann) is remorseful. I don’t think my dad would want him to sit in prison.”
Mr. Mann, 28, instead received a 10-year suspended sentence with the stipulation that he spend the next 30 weekends at the Silverdale Detention Center. He also will lose his driver’s license for three years, is not allowed to drink alcohol and can never refuse a breath-alcohol test. “Make sure you do all of those things,” Hamilton County Judge Rebecca Stern cautioned the defendant. “You’re looking at a long sentence if you don’t.”
Mr. Mann could have been sent to prison for eight to 12 years had Judge Stern chosen to impose her own sentence rather than consider Ms. Bice’s suggestion in court that “he deserves a chance” to get his life together. The testimony prompted Judge Stern to allow the prosecution and defense to hammer out their own sentencing guidelines. “We’ll try to come up with something that works for everybody,” Judge Stern said.
Mr. Mann, who said he always has sought to make amends for his actions, later stood outside the courtroom hugging the victim’s family members. “It’s an amazing day,” he said. Mr. Mann’s mother, Nellie Mann, thanked the Bice family for giving her son a second chance.
Assistant District Attorney Jay Woods said he, too, believes Mr. Mann’s remorse is sincere. “That’s something I don’t see very often,” Mr. Woods said.
Some related posts:
- Pondering a victim's role in sentencing
- More on victims at sentencing
- Jury sentencing and apologies, Texas-style
- SCJC symposium on "The Victim in Criminal Justice"
June 4, 2008 at 09:15 AM | Permalink
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That's justice. Truly excellent, I love to see this. It tempers my hatred of victim impact statements and victims' rights in general.
The one comment I have is that in this so called "Christian Nation" it is way too rare for victims to get up there and forgive the defendant. Usually the most vicious, vindictive victim statements come from people wearing crosses around their necks. Only forgiveness (like this example) is compatable with Christianity. Thus non-forgiveness is hypocritical and likely sinful. What would Jesus do? He'd forgive no matter what. He would not scream, foaming at the mouth, "I hope you rot in prison forever you scumbag!" At least a few people out there actually act on their faith (I'm assuming this victim is a christian but that's probably not a good assumption).
Posted by: bruce | Jun 4, 2008 11:29:24 AM
The Mr.Jeremiah Mann in this situation is in my life-as he has been during the entirety of the case. He was in agony over the situation and really changed his entire life through it.
Posted by: kelly | May 2, 2009 2:51:06 AM
Thanks! Great Blog! Very useful information!
I’m glad to see this post.
Posted by: חלקי חילוף לרכב | Jan 3, 2011 8:02:45 AM